I have Lyme. I’d like to not have it anymore. I also just want cake.
Before you even skim over this post because you are going dairy-free, have a dairy intolerance, dairy allergy, or just simply have Dairy Disdain disease (hello, long-time sufferer here), just stop. Just give this one a chance. Because, YOU GUYSSS, my life is changed. At least stay for the gifs. It’s gif-bomb central in here. Anyways. Um, so… I have fallen in love and I don’t care who knows it. And I have to now devote an entire post to milk. Raw milk. Erm, grass-fed raw milk. Because I’m a health-food diva.
So just so we’re clear, raw milk is milk that is not pasteurized and not homogenized.
Second of all, stop it. Because raw milk is amazing. Let’s break it down. I know your first thought is bacteria. Food poisoning. Listeria. E. coli. Whatever. So let’s start with a paragraph I shall title as follows.
Ermegersh am I gonna get sick. The FDA thinks you will. So does the CDC. They even go as far as saying it’s extremely dangerous to your health. But we both know how much we love the soapboxes those two organizations stand on. The reality is, I want to throw milk in their face (they take romantic vacations to Fiji and eat breakfast in bed with the giants in the dairy industry as well as Pharma who supplies the feed additives and I guess they don’t want their ménage à trois friends to ever be unhappy so they poo-poo on raw milk and I’m done being cynical now). But to be serious, a press release from the Weston A. Price Foundation stated that published reports of illness attributed to raw milk from 1999 to 2010 found that during the eleven-year period, illnesses from raw milk consumption averaged a whopping 42 per year. In fact, they found that according to figures published by the very government agencies mentioned above, you are about thirty-five thousand times more likely to get sick from other foods than you are from raw milk.
In your face. I’ma go even further. Most raw dairy farms go to extreme lengths to make sure their milk is safe. Every state has its own laws regulating testing and health standards of raw milk (we will get to that in a bit). To give you an example, (which I feel is indicative of standards across the nation) the state of California put together an organization that published a set of basic guidelines and raw milk production standards, developed over 10 months by an international group of medical doctors, PhDs, veterinarians, epidemiologists, scientists, food safety experts, nutritional consultants, researchers, raw milk producers and consumers. Um, yeah so show me a conventional dairy farm with that kind of army? Raw milk dairy farms undergo more rigorous microbial testing, with higher standards and greater sanitary and safety measures practiced on site than any factory farm – by miles. *Mic drop*
Oh, wait that was premature, I’m not done.
Believe “organic milk” (pasteurized) to be best? You’re wrong. Organic milk frequently comes from cows in factories. Did you know, for example, that Horizon is a factory farm? Yes, Horizon, the one with the cute cartons of “happy cows” jumping in some luscious green grass. But there’s no grass at Horizon farms. Cue sad cello music now.
Unless the cows are raised on pasture, they are not healthy and they are certainly not happy. And if a cow is not healthy, how can her milk be healthy? Clean, nutritious milk comes from healthy cows that eat grass. Most cows, even at the “organic” dairies, are fed grain (corn and soy). Cows were never meant to eat grain. They are meant to eat grass and graze on pasture. When cows are fed grain, even organic grain, it makes them sick.
Michael Pollan’s The Vegetable-Industrial Complex, in the New York Times stated:
“The lethal strain of E. coli known as 0157:H7, responsible for this latest outbreak of food poisoning, was unknown before 1982; it is believed to have evolved in the gut of feedlot cattle. These are animals that stand around in their manure all day long, eating a diet of grain that happens to turn a cow’s rumen into an ideal habitat for E. coli 0157:H7. (The bug can’t survive long in cattle living on grass.)
Then Nina Planck said in her article, Leafy Green Sewage, in the New York Times:
“In 2003, The Journal of Dairy Science noted that up to 80 percent of dairy cattle carry O157… Happily, the journal also provided a remedy based on a simple experiment. When cows were switched from a grain diet to hay for only five days, O157 declined 1,000-fold.
The real issue here is not whether raw milk obtained from grass-fed cows is safe. Rather, it’s that milk from commercially raised cows is actually extremely dangerous to consume unless it is pasteurized. Feedlot animals are routinely fed an unnatural diet and given shots of bovine growth hormone to artificially increase milk production. This diet is so contrary to their biology that it causes severe illnesses that can only be combated by continually injecting the cows with antibiotics. These animals, kept in inhumane conditions far from their natural environment are subject to enormous stresses not just on their psyche but their bodies as well. Case in point, a feedlot cow in confinement lives on average for just 3.5 years. That’s because it would not survive longer. A cow grazing on pasture? Twelve years or more. Yes, please give me the fluids milked from the sick cow standing in her own manure.
Of course, nothing is fail proof. Sure, raw milk could make you sick. But you’re also more likely to contract salmonella from raw eggs or E.coli from raw spinach. Yes, you heard me. A salad is more dangerous than raw milk.
I said you heard me.
But I’m lactose Intolerant and I want to immediately dismiss this entire post. Oh you. Food Safety News posted an article that had a few interesting things to say about this. One, they cited a survey completed in Michigan that found 81 percent of Michigan raw milk drinkers who say they were diagnosed with lactose intolerance reported that they did not suffer from symptoms after switching to raw milk. Two, in response to a published study from Stanford which found that during the course of one week, raw milk drinkers did not find an ease in their symptoms, Gardner (the senior author at Stanford of the study) had something more to say about that study “off the books”. He claims that the test did not account for whether or not the short eight-day phase of drinking raw milk was a long enough time for bodies to adjust to the bacteria in raw milk. A theory Mark McAfee, the owner of the organic farm which supplied the raw milk to the study believed. McAfee added on to this that his own personal observations were that new raw milk customers who cite pre-existing symptoms of lactose intolerance usually say that they experience the same symptoms when they begin drinking raw milk, but the symptoms fade away after several weeks on raw milk. To him, that suggests that it may take some time for lactose-degrading bacteria to colonize the intestines and ease the symptoms. It’s true guys… real milk contains within it the bacteria that help you digest lactose. Pasteurization kills this bacteria.
I was one of those people. I just couldn’t tolerate it. Now I don’t just tolerate it (very well in fact), but I legitimately feel like it’s healing and repairing my gut. It’s so worth a shot guys. It’s worth going through the adjustment. But more on my love affair later. I’m not done convincing you yet.
I have allergies. Bad things happen when I drink milk. Stop talking to me about this. I will not. In an opinion column from the New York Times, it was proposed that the cure from allergies will surprisingly “come from the cowshed”. According to two studies done on Amish and European children (where allergy rates were stunningly lower than the average American public) found the following: in Europe, the consumption of unpasteurized milk has repeatedly correlated with protection against allergic disease. In America, 80 percent of the Amish studied consume raw milk and had similarly robust health. Another study published revealed European children who consumed farm (raw) milk had more regulatory T-cells, irrespective of whether they lived on farms. The higher the quantity of those cells, the less likely these children were to be given diagnoses of asthma. The conclusion? Innocuous cowshed microbes, plant material and raw milk protected children (and potentially adults) by favorably stimulating their immune systems throughout life. Also, conventional milk is pro-inflammatory. Of course your body cries.
May I propose one of the main reasons you may have allergy-type responses to factory farm milk (or factory eggs or factory farmed anything)? So, you are what you eat right? Well so are cows. And so are their milk. Let’s take a look at what conventional dairy cattle are fed. It will be fun. So soy… lotsa people allergic to that. Um, GMO grains like wheat and corn… lotsa gluten allergies out there and GMO corn? Yerk. Bakery waste, yes… feedlot farms feed their cows a lot of cheap, calorie dense things considered waste from other forms of food processing for humans. Because profit. Who knows what that cow is really eating. Hormones and antibiotics – do you know that estrogen is present in conventional milk? As a man, do you want that? Mothers, do you want that for your boys? Women, do you want that for yourselves? No. The answer is no people. Now antibiotics… I purposely take a ton of those. A lot of us Lyme patients are on a lot of antibiotics and it’s saving our lives, no doubt. I am not against antibiotics. I just don’t want them in my food. When antibiotics are in milk they will have an affect on your gut microbes just like regularly consumed antibiotics. One of the biggest culprits in allergies is insufficient friendly bacteria – in our guts, our sinuses, our throats, our mouths, our nasal cavities, and more. When we don’t have enough of these little guys who work in tandem with our immune systems to keep bad bacteria and even some viruses in check, then the immune system has to work over-time. So, long-term conventional dairy consumption and eventual allergen issues… come on, the dots are absurdly easy to connect.
Case in point: My long-term antibiotic treatment has destroyed much of a specific good bacteria in our guts that “eats up” the naturally occurring histamine in our foods. The result is I now have excessive histamine in my system resulting in daily allergy-type reactions in response to eating… anything. Things like heartburn, facial flushing, itching, rashes, drippy nose, heart palpitations, hot flashes, blah blah. It had gotten so bad at several points that eating became pure torture (imagine the misery of seasonal allergies but body-wide instead of just limited to your sinuses). I started to just avoid food altogether sometimes. To try to combat this histamine plague, I was consuming an insane amount of a specific probiotic that contained this one specific strain of bacteria and it was getting really costly. I can’t wait to tell you what happened when I started drinking raw milk. I just can’t.
Raw milk is expensive and hard to find. It’s not worth the hassle. I’m a lazy person who also probably doesn’t eat enough vegetables. I’ll tell you what’s not worth it. Pasteurized milk. It’s not worth the few bucks you spend on it. In fact, it’s an entirely different substance than “real milk” altogether. It’s not really milk… it’s just some sort of whitish liquid with some carbs, fat, and protein… but it’s also a chemically altered substance, heated to remove pathogens and bacteria and to prolong its shelf life. The resultant low-enzyme activity makes it difficult to digest, the altered fat content renders the vitamins and minerals difficult to absorb, and the residual drugs and antibiotics pose a threat to human health. On top of this, the naturally occurring beneficial bacteria have been destroyed. My previous Dairy Disdain disease was for good reason. But now I sing a different tune. Raw milk is a wonderfully complex whole food, complete with digestive enzymes and its own antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-parasitic mechanisms. It is packed full of both fat and water-soluble vitamins, a wide range of minerals and trace elements, all eight essential amino acids, more than 60 enzymes, and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) an omega-6 fatty acid with outstanding health effects on everything from insulin resistance to cancer to cardiovascular disease. Raw milk is medicine.
Let’s dive further into raw milk’s nutritional profile. In fact, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods one could stuff their face with. Cue bullet list (we’re getting profesh here):
I KNOW RIGHT.
Lastly, let’s just remind ourselves one last time why pasteurization and feedlot farming is anti-health:
|Nutrient and Immune Factors||Pasteurized Milk||Raw Milk|
|Vitamin A||35% Reduction||100% Active|
|Vitamin C||25 to 77% Reduction||100% Active|
|Vitamin E||14% Reduction||100% Active|
|Iron||66% Reduction||100% Active|
|Zinc||70% Reduction||100% Active|
|B-Complex Vitamins||38% Reduction||100% Active|
|Calcium||21% Reduction||100% Active|
|Enzymes||100% Destroyed||100% Active|
|Whey Protein||Denatured||100% Active|
–Macdonald LE, Brett J, Kelton D, Majowicz SE, Snedeker K, Sargeant JM. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of pasteurization on milk vitamins, and evidence for raw milk consumption and other health-related outcomes. Journal of Food Protection 2011: 749(11): 1814-32.
Ok fine! You’ve convinced me I must have this miracle food! Where do I buy?!?!
Each state has their own regulations regarding the sale of raw milk. I won’t make this complicated for you. List was last updated on 9/8/2105 at the time of this post.
Here is a list of states where raw milk is legal to sell in retail stores: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Washington.
States that require any store selling raw milk to be owned by the producer of that milk: Utah.
States that allow on-farm sales of raw milk or delivery of raw milk directly from the farm to consumers, including sales at farmer’s markets: South Dakota and Missouri.
States that allow only on-farm sales of raw milk: Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
States that allow raw milk to be obtained only through cow-share agreements (you basically pay ownership of a cow with a set number of other people and then may drink the milk from that cow): Alaska, Colorado, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wyoming.
States that prohibit the sale of raw milk for human consumption: Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Infographic for those who don’t want to look for their state or for those in Canada:
Live somewhere other than the U.S. or Canada? Click here for raw milk laws around the world.
Keep in mind this does not prevent private, unregulated drinking of raw milk. For example, a quick google search of “raw milk Michigan” popped up several farms willing to do “herdshares” where you lease a cow by usually paying a boarding fee and then a fee for the cost of the milk. This is legal as there are no laws in Michigan preventing the drinking of raw milk from your own cow. Just make sure you are working with a farm that employs microbial testing on their milk and abides strict sanitary practices.
Where do I find it? Do what the rest of us do… google it or ask the health hippie around the corner from you. *smirk*
Also, raw milk looks different. Because it is.
One is nutrient dense, one is not. I’m showing you this just so when you pour your first glass you aren’t all like ZOMG what is wrong with this milk. Nothing is wrong with it. Everything is right about it.
My love story.
As stated above, I basically believed I was above anybody who drank milk. I would even post disturbing infographics on Facebook of what is in milk and then maniacally laugh as I grossed out the people. I knew it to be pro-inflammatory, often causing acne and upset tummies and I knew the “Got Milk” campaigns and the calcium campaigns were just to put money in pockets and didn’t really reflect the true nutritive value of the beverage. I kept pounding away at the almond milk and coconut milk all the while my histamine issues and other food intolerances since becoming sick with Lyme disease kept growing worse and worse.
Then I read an article about the benefits of grass-fed meat and dairy products. I began to see the light. These products were anti-inflammatory instead of pro-inflammatory, provided so many more nutrients and had healthier fats. As I mentioned previously, I bought myself a little carton of grass-fed milk, albeit pasteurized, and attempted to drink it. It felt like I was punched in the stomach. Betrayal! Dejectedly, I ditched the milk idea.
Later, while visiting a friend at her Lyme treatment center, I overheard a conversation (I’m nosy… self-admitted nosy person here) from the sweetest woman who’s equally sweet daughter Hollie was also receiving treatment at said clinic. She was talking about what great results their family has had with raw milk. I went home hardly able to wait to try this thing I did not know I could buy. Guys… it was love at first sip. It was so rich. So creamy. It just felt… like real nourishment. From day one I never had the stomach or gastrointestinal issues conventional milk gave me. It just felt good in my body. I felt of its magical powers.
One month into drinking a gallon a week and my histamine issues have dramatically decreased, I feel stronger, the gut issues I have to manage on an ongoing basis due to my antibiotic Lyme treatment have decreased and I am anticipating my probiotic budget to decrease (It’s gonna be a Christmas miracle guys, a Christmas miracle to get that figure down). My skin has never looked better, my nails have never been stronger, my hair is growing quickly, hormones balancing faster, I swear even my Lyme symptoms are decreasing (likely do to lowered inflammation levels)… just no negatives. None. Superfood status: UNLOCKED. My brother and I are so ON this bandwagon that every week we each go get our own gallons. We even watched a young father at the store once, letting each of his little girls carry their own gallon. It was adorbs. And I just wanted to high five that man with the force of Thor’s hammer. Parenting done right. Cuz… you will fight over this milk. I let my brother finish just the little bit that was left in my last gallon recently. I did so calmly. But the inner me was all “this could escalate quickly”.
I haven’t had many treats since Lyme exploded on me. Lately, though, a protein shaker full of raw milk, MCT oil, carob powder, and a bit of cinnamon, shaken until your arms burn, is pure heaven to me. I honestly try to lick the frothy bubbles. No shame.
Maybe cake can wait after all?
Obvious disclaimer – if you have serious known dairy allergies, proceed with caution. If you live in a state where it is illegal to sell raw milk, please put any potential milkshare/herdshare/cowshare/lone farmer willing to barter deals through the ringer. Make sure that milk is tested and then retested. Make sure that cow is pastured. Make sure that cow is living on grass like God intended when he created the thing that is cow. And then, proceed with caution.
Kay, that’s all folks. Consider yourself smacked with the truth about milk today. Peace out.